Published: 2019-01-11 04:43:09 BdST
The Sabarimala temple in the state of Kerala has been the site of tension since India's Supreme Court ruled in late September to end a ban on women of menstruating age entering it.
There have since been sporadic outbreaks of violence between the authorities and protesters attempting to prevent women from entering, setting off a cultural battle in what is still a deeply religious country.
Bindu Ammini, 40, a law lecturer at Kerala's Kannur University and Kanakadurga, 39, a civil servant, told Reuters they were determined to enter despite threats of violence.
"A lot of people tried to dissuade us and make us turn back - police officers, our friends... because they knew we were facing a lot of backlash," Kanakadurga said.
After the Supreme Court's judgment, the women made an unsuccessful attempt to enter the temple on Dec. 24, before finally succeeding on Jan. 2.
A third woman aged 46 has since entered the site, the office of the chief minister of Kerala said on Jan. 4.
"We felt no fear. We had only one aim: we wanted to go to that shrine," Bindu said.
Their entry sparked widespread protests and a day-long strike in Kerala led in part by members of India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.
"This BJP government has a duty to regulate and control their members," Bindu said.
The women - speaking in an undisclosed location on the outskirts of the city of Kochi - say they have since faced threats from protesters, but that they trusted the authorities to keep them safe and plan to return home next week.
"I always say that I trust the police persons, the state government of Kerala and also our democratic society of Kerala," Bindu said.